The 17 dumbest things people have done in US national parks

From the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee to the colorful thermal geysers of Yellowstone, America has protected some of the most impressive natural wonders in its National Parks. 

But like with any precious landmarks, humans are bound to push the limits of respectful observation. Using a Reddit thread and other sources, we’ve compiled 17 of the dumbest things people have done in our National Parks. 

Read on, get (un)inspired, and remember to never take a selfie with a bison.

A group of tourists in Yellowstone National Park filmed snowmobilers being chased by a bison.

A bus was stopped in Yellowstone National Park in March after a charging bison blocked the path. Tourists aboard the bus were entertained and filmed the bison as it charged at a number of snowmobilers. When the bison turned its attention to the tourist bus, the driver tried to inch forward to scare the 2,000-pound animal way. 

“He’s looking at us!” a passenger in the coach says in the video.

Yellowstone National Park issued a statement that people in the park should respect the animals and their environment. “Animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be,” the statement reads. “During winter, wildlife endure extremes of cold, wind, and the absence of ready food. Give animals space.”

Four men tried to walk into the 160-degree geothermal hot springs in Yellowstone National Park.

Four men behind the travel vlog High on Life were thrust under fire in early May for walking off the boardwalk area at Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring. The thermal spring is one of the largest in the United States, and its water hovers around 160 degrees. Danger to the tourists aside, it is also an extremely delicate ecosystem. After drawing ire from the public, the foursome issued an apology.

Some tourists thought bear spray (pepper spray) worked like bug repellent and sprayed the hot chemicals all over their bodies.

“I was in a National Park at the visitor’s center. Suddenly, there’s this huge commotion and a lot of screaming from the lobby. I head over to find an entire tourist family crying and screaming and the park staff trying their best to manage the situation. Then the air shifts and it hits me. They had applied a liberal amount of BEAR SPRAY all over themselves and the entire lobby. Apparently, they had mistaken the wording of “bear repellent” and had assumed it was to be used like mosquito repellent.” — king_bestestes

A woman smoked meth inside the hollow trunk of a 3,500-year-old tree. She started a fire and the entire tree burned down.

A woman decided to light up in a massive 3,500-year-old Cyprus tree known as “the Senator.” The tree caught fire and burned to the ground, and the woman received five years of probation.

Visitors complained to hotel staff that the bears in Yellowstone weren’t “trained” to come out and play.

While we can’t confirm the validity or the seriousness of this comment card, some visitors to Yellowstone were apparently disappointed at the lack of wildlife sightings.

The card reads, “Our visit was wonderful but we never saw any bears. Please train your bears to be where guests can see them. This was an expensive trip to not get to see any bears.”

Many people have gotten too close to bison in Yellowstone, often in hopes of snapping an amazing picture, but ended up with serious injuries in the process.

This one comes straight from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: don’t take selfies with the bison in Yellowstone.

Of five people who were gored by bison in Yellowstone in summer 2015, “[t]hree persons sustained injuries while taking photographs at a distance of approximately 3–6 ft (1–2 m) from bison, including two who turned their back on the bison to take the photograph; one person reported taking a cell phone self-portrait (selfie), which necessitated getting close to the animal.”

A man dropped a rock from the top of a busy hiking trail in the Grand Canyon, nearly hitting several hikers.

Redditor kristyin says “You see every hiker see their impending death as this rock bounced of the canyon wall.”

A person on a whale-watching tour asked the guide what elevation they were at. The answer: sea level.

“During a whale watch on a boat in a marine sanctuary I had a guy ask me what the elevation was… People get stupid on vacation.” – RedditorJackRubysGun

Boy Scouts decided to cut down several young trees in a National Park, and were fined heftily.

“A group of Boy Scouts decided they wanted to try to build a raft and started sawing away at young trees. That is suuuuuuper illegal. I think after they were caught they got fined something like $3,000 per tree, I can’t remember exactly.” — Choniepaster

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